Lottery cash for railway museum

AN historic railway in the North-East is to be restored with lottery cash.

Bowes Railway, near Gateshead, is the only surviving operational example of a full gauge powered and self-acting gravity incline railway in the world.

It will be re-vitalised thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £341,500 to the Bowes Railway Company.

It is hoped the boost will transform it into a top visitor attraction and training centre for the area.

Ivor Crowther, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund North-East, said: “We are delighted to support this project as it will bring people together to record, share and conserve this important part of the North-East railway heritage.”

Attributed to a design by acclaimed engineer, Robert Stephenson, Bowes Railway was constructed in 1825 to transport coal from the North Durham Coalfield to ships moored on the Tyne.

The Springwell Colliery complex comprises 18th and 19th-century buildings that date back to the sinking of the pit and the development of the railway.

It was turned into a museum in 1975 but now important restoration works can get underway such as repairs to the 1904 Brakeman’s Cabin and bait hut, creating a viewing platform for visitors.

A small length of spur rail track will also be restored and will return this integral piece of track to working condition for passenger rides.

A full-time engineering training manager will be brought on board to implement a programme of education and a learning officer will deliver an events programme which will include an oral history project, industrial heritage trail and a touring exhibition.

Graham Hall, vice-chairman of the Bowes Railway Company, said: “This grant is pivotal in maximising the use of the site and making it an even more attractive venue for visitors.”

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